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Blurring Food Channels - What’s Not On The Menu?

23 November 2018

Blurring Food Channels - What’s Not On The Menu?


Kate Holland, MSc Design Innovation (Food)


Experience driven consumers are driving the changing face of foodservice. In Bord Bia’s new foodservice report, entertainment is increasingly valued by consumers and willingness to pay premium prices for something “unique and different” is in no short supply.


“Non-traditional” segments are increasingly using food and drink as a point of differentiation and tool to compete. Additions of food and beverage services are proving to be a driver of profitability and guest satisfaction as a unique selling point. Bord Bia’s foodservice report projects that the market will grow by 6.1% this year to a value of €8.2bn.


Bord Bia’s consumer lifestyle trend Engaging Experiences highlights consumers search for moments of discovery and delight that enhances their day. The search for new and unique experiences extends beyond foodservice with examples of diverse businesses who are taking traditional activities and recreating the experience in attempts to stand out from the crowd.


Making Pubs Popular Again

Segments like pubs and bars in light of stricter drink driving laws should consider shifting focus to food offerings. The Wild Honey Inn, Irelands first Michellin Star pub uses local produce sourced from along the Wild Atlantic Way to compliment its French cuisine style. Owner Aidan McGrath notes “Everyone knows that the wet sales in pubs, in rural Ireland in particular are not as good as they used to be… I think publicans need to reinvent what they’re doing. When I say missing a trick, I think they should probably focus on food”.


Another creative dining experience includes Pop Up restaurants. Chilli Penguin Catering Mexican Pop Up offers ad hoc burritos and traditional Mexican style eats in Kilkenny’s Pump House bar. An option for premises perhaps lacking facilities or space to expand or those wanting to test before they invest.


Furniture Meets Food

Acknowledging furniture shopping with little ones can be a challenging and stressful day out, Swedish furniture store IKEA promises something for everyone. When the tots are not in the play area, they can enjoy organic baby food that comes for free with any adult meal. Options include “healthy, organic and vegetarian options, so everyone leaves satisfied”.


Theatre Experience Extraordinaire

The Stella Theatre in Dublin offers far from the traditional cinema experience. Tapas style food as well as cinema favourites nachos, chilli hot dogs and cinnamon sugar churros with hot chocolate sauce can be ordered at the lobby bar and served to you in your very generous sized seat. Feeling thirsty? The Stella Cocktail Club offers crafted cocktails and finally, if you’re still not satisfied or you find yourself chasing the American Dream after your screening, the Stella Diner serves an assortment of classic dishes from across the US.


Blurring Meal Occasions

As the well-established Brunch trend becomes progressively mainstream, in particular amongst the Millennial generation, the boundaries of breakfast come lunch appear limitless. Emerging phenomenon, “Bottomless Brunch”, inspired by Manhattan’s trend, is becoming popular in restaurants and cafes in the capital. Prosecco, Champagne and/or Mimosa alongside your smashed avocado on sourdough is fast becoming an accepted hair of the dog remedy.


Refuelling at the Gas Station

Irish brand Applegreen has expanded its business offering over the past 5 years from fuel to foodservice as a vehicle for customer growth. Applegreen Chief Operations Officer, Joe Barrett explains “People don’t need to stop as often because cars are getting more efficient. So what we need to do is find another source of product we can sell to our customers and food is key”. Key partnerships for the brand are Freshii and Subway and coffee brands Lavazza and Costa Coffee. Attractive barista bars and cafes within Applegreen stores give drivers an additional incentive to take a break and refuel both themselves and their vehicle.


Happy Hair Hour

A number of premium hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons are now offering a complimentary beverage beyond the usual tea or coffee. Sugar Daddy Barbers in the heart of Dublin city centre offers a glass of whiskey to its customers while they get groomed. The premium barber shop caters for “stylishly slick individuals in a modern tonsorium” bringing a “modern twist to the new generation of male urbanites taking pride in their appearance”.


Outlook for the Future


  • Continued investment in food and beverage with prosperous incremental profitability and growth potential opportunities.
  • Promotional activities and food offerings will coincide amongst “non-traditional” channels to gain consumer attraction.
  • Foodservice evolution will continue to create opportunities for all types of operators meeting the growing consumer needs.


Recommendations for engaging experiences in evolving channels


  • Be creative in building an exciting character in a consumer story. Experiences that are “sharable” can help create an effective online story that can generate a direct message from followers. These online interactions may reach thousands and provide instant market research and consumer reaction data.
  • Find the sweet spot for an experiential and social space, creating a perfect channel for food and drink brands.
  • Create new experiences from existing products while remaining true to your brand values. This will ensure existing customers loyalty while attracting new ones.